|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:8-13 While all the other rods remained as they were. Aaron's rod became a living branch. In some places there were buds, in others blossoms, in others fruit, at the same time; all this was miraculous. Thus Aaron was manifested to be under the special blessing of Heaven. Fruitfulness is the best evidence of a Divine call; and the plants of God's setting, and the boughs cut off them, will flourish. This rod was preserved, to take away the murmurings of the people, that they might not die. The design of God, in all his providences, and in the memorials of them, is to take away sin. Christ was manifested to take away sin. Christ is expressly called a rod out of the stem of Jesse: little prospect was there, according to human views, that he should ever flourish. But the dry rod revived and blossomed to the confusion of his adversaries. The people cry, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish! This was the language of a repining people, quarrelling with the judgments of God, which by their own pride and obstinacy they brought upon themselves. It is very wicked to fret against God when we are in affliction, and in our distress thus to trespass yet more. If we die, if we perish, it is of ourselves, and the blame will be upon our own heads. When God judges, he will overcome, and will oblige the most obstinate gainsayers to confess their folly. And how great are our mercies, that we have a clearer and a better dispensation, established upon better promises!
Verse 13. - Shall we be consumed with dying? It was a natural question, considering all that had happened; and indeed it could only be answered in the affirmative, for their sentence was, "In this wilderness they shall be consumed" (chapter 14:35). But it was not in human nature that they should calmly accept their fate.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Whosoever cometh anything near unto the tabernacle of the Lord shall die,.... They who before were so bold and daring as to think the priesthood was common to them with Aaron, or they had as good a right to it, and might go into the sanctuary of the Lord where he did, are now so frightened at the rod being laid up as a token against them, that they thought they must not come near the tabernacle at all, and, if they did, would be in the utmost danger of death:
shall we be consumed with dying? such violent deaths, until there are none left of us? but the Syriac and Arabic versions render the words affirmatively; we are near or about to be consumed; and so the Targum of Onkelos, lo, we are to be consumed; which agrees best with the preceding clause, for they would scarcely make a question of what they had affirmed.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. cometh any thing near—that is, nearer than he ought to do; an error into which many may fall. Will the stern justice of God overtake every slight offense? We shall all be destroyed. Some, however, regard this exclamation as the symptom or a new discontent, rather than the indication of a reverential and submissive spirit. Let us fear and sin not.
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